Member Profile

The All-Seeing
Private Eye

A Masonic sleuth-for-hire keeps digging for the truth.

By Antone Pierucci

“I’m a fact finder,” begins John Hodson, a Modesto-based private eye and member of Modesto Lodge No. 206. “If the facts look bad for your client, tough.” While Hodson’s practice is more about social-media searches and records requests than overnight stakeouts, the ex-police officer isn’t above indulging in a bit of his inner Philip Marlowe. We caught up with the Master Mason and private dick for the skinny on life as a professional sleuth.

California Freemason: How is your work as a private investigator different than what people expect from the movies?

John Hodson: Private eyes, gumshoes, whatever you call them, generally have a seedy reputation. Looking through windows, filming sexual misconduct—stuff like that. Certainly we do a lot of background checks, and we’ve followed people and done surveillance. But in California, you know, you can’t climb over someone’s fence to spy on them. Everything we do, it has to be out in the open.

CFM: Do you have a favorite case?

JH: One sticks in my mind. An individual had shown up in court 23 times for a single charge of assault with a deadly weapon. It’d been going on for two years. I was hired by the defense attorney to investigate, and within three days, not only had I given this man an alibi, I’d also located the weapon and got the name of the guy who really was involved.

Private Investigator John Hodson in his home office in Modesto.

CFM: You have a background as a police officer as well. Is that how you got into this line of work?

JH: In 1977, I became an officer in East Yorkshire, in England. I’d deal with everything from poaching animals to fights, robberies, assaults, you name it. For three years I was with the riot squad, and then I worked as a detective. I came to the United States in 1991 and did all kinds of jobs until I got my citizenship and became a Modesto police officer. I did that for 16 years, until I retired in 2011 and started my business as a PI.

CFM: And your wife is your partner?

JH: Yes, I started Hodson and Hodson with my wife, Alisa. She’s excellent on social media, doing background and searching that and other data banks we get information from. She’s helped find missing heirs to fortunes, things like that. We deal with anything from a missing dog to a homicide.

CFM: You’ve got a very distinctive northern English accent. Does that help in your line of work?

JH: Actually, yes. It helped when I was with the police. I’d go to a dispute where people were getting aggressive, and I’d say, ’Ow you doin’? and they’d freeze and look at me like, Wow, what’s that accent? And the friction was gone. So people knew me, they remembered me, and the accent helped.

CFM: Were you first drawn to Freemasonry in England?

JH: No, actually. One of the attorneys I worked with here was a Mason—in fact, he’d been with the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, and the Shrine— and we started discussing it one day. I told him I’d been interested, and he said, Look, that’s the first step! He invited me to a cigar night, and now I’ve been a Mason for five years.


More from this issue:

The Mystery House

When a tiny apartment with a big-time literary past came up for rent, William Arney found himself walking in Sam Spade’s footsteps.

Read More